Sir Roger Casement: Nationalist, Activist, Patriot, Poet and _____?

Sir Roger Casement was hanged on 3 August 1916, at the age of 51.  He had been glorified and vilified over the course of history.  Can his "Ghost" now rest in peace?

The Ghost Of Roger Casement
by William Butler Yeats
O what has made that sudden noise?
What on the threshold stands?
It never crossed the sea because
John Bull and the sea are friends;
But this is not the old sea
Nor this the old seashore.
What gave that roar of mockery,
That roar in the sea's roar?

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

John Bull has stood for Parliament,
A dog must have his day,
The country thinks no end of him,
For he knows how to say,
At a beanfeast or a banquet,
That all must hang their trust
Upon the British Empire,
Upon the Church of Christ.

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

John Bull has gone to India
And all must pay him heed,
For histories are there to prove
That none of another breed
Has had a like inheritance,
Or sucked such milk as he,
And there's no luck about a house
If it lack honesty.

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

I poked about a village church
And found his family tomb
And copied out what I could read
In that religious gloom;
Found many a famous man there;
But fame and virtue rot.
Draw round, beloved and bitter men,
Draw round and raise a shout;

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.
"The Trial of Sir Roger Casement", by Knott George (1917)

Views: 1070

Tags: Roger Casement

Comment by Gerry Regan on July 31, 2013 at 2:43pm

It would seem the private life of Roger Casement fails to live up to the completely unrealistic standard we often set for our conventional heroes. I find him heroic in his courageous work for Ireland, in which he sought little in return and which cost him his life, and some would argue, his reputation.

Comment by Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill on July 31, 2013 at 3:33pm

the infamous diaries were released by our British chums at exactly the same time homosexuality was decrimminalised in the republic. Any man not married is accused of being gay. I believe Ruth Dudley Edwards came up with a theory that Pearse was gay. Not sure if the diaries, which some believe were forgeries, provide much evidence of homosexuality.

Comment by Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill on July 31, 2013 at 3:35pm

researching my forthcoming book on Irish history I became across reference to a plaque in his honour in Southern Germany. 

Comment by Bit Devine on July 31, 2013 at 4:07pm


Is this the plaque, chara? It is on a guesthouse in Reidarau, a small village on Lake Ammersee.  The plaque commemrates his stay there in the summer of 1915.

The translation reads:

Here resided in Summer 1915, Sir Roger Casement, a martyr for Ireland's freedom,
a magnanimous friend of Germany in difficult times. He sealed the love of country with his blood.

Call me a cynic but I am always skeptical of any British "finds" in regards to our heroes.

Comment by Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill on July 31, 2013 at 4:09pm


Comment by Gerry Regan on August 1, 2013 at 10:02am

Ronan, have you given us a preview of this book project? Even if you did, might you reprise for us?

Comment by Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill on August 1, 2013 at 11:07am

Its due for publication in October, but I can write a few things about it.

Comment by The Very Rev Daniel Beegan on August 2, 2013 at 10:47am

I remember that horrid book well, the one the Brits released, it was called, "The Black Diaries of Roger Casement." My Yankee mother gave it to my Irish father on Christmas in attempt to anger him, Her attempt failed, but the book was evil indeed.

Founding Member
Comment by Nollaig 2016 on August 2, 2013 at 11:00am

Some might also have called him a traitor or a Martyr.  He was such a complex character.

Comment by Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill on August 3, 2013 at 3:42pm

its maybe an odd thing that the people who betrayed him, the people of North Kerry, are now very much Republican. 


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